Writer/actor/director/erstwhile web developer… Brian Limond – a co-founder of Glaswegian digital agency Chunk – has many strings to his bow. As his alter-ego Limmy makes the leap from internet notoriety to eponymous show on BBC Two Scotland, The Drum takes the opportunity to catch up with Limond and find out just how smooth the journey from agency life to TV has gone.
Here he talks about life at Scottish agencies, the characters from the marketing world that have inspired his comedy, his thoughts on the current state of the industry and his plans for the future.
First up a quick run down of your developer days. You’ve been part of BlackID, Flam Jam and Chunk. What was your experience of digital creative agency life? What did you love? What did you hate?
My experience with web companies has been a rollercoaster. I was excited to start in BlackID and learn Flash and generally get to mix with talented people, until I started to resent being on a shitey £11k for doing all-nighter after all-nighter with next to no thanks from the bosses. When a few of us left to start Flam Jam, I was back to enjoying my work and the feeling of self-determination and optimism, but things went downhill again when one of our co-directors became a pretty fucking unpleasant person to work with. So then came Chunk, which was fantastic; it was one big laugh, yet I somehow managed to find the time to do work that kept our clients happy.
Do you still have many friends/contacts in the marketing world, and does it still play any part in your life?
I’m still in touch with Donnie Kerrigan of Chunk. Other than that, nobody. Marketing plays a good part in my comedy stuff, although it doesn’t feel professional enough to call it marketing. I’d just call it common sense. When I was a few months away from doing my stand-up shows, I’d know that I should talk a lot about it on my blog, set up a mailing list, make up animated gifs to attract attention on MySpace, daft things like that. And when I knew that the transmission date for my series was approaching, I made my Biggest Fan thing, to get more Facebook and Twitter fans, in order to then bombard them with info about the show.
Do you still keep an eye on work being produced, in Glasgow/Scotland or anywhere else? And have you been impressed by anyone recently?
Every now and then I’ll have a look around to see what’s new in the Flash world, but all I find is the same old humourless shite that bored me years ago. The only stuff that impresses is what Chunk are up to. I check up on what they’re up to quite often, for obvious reasons, and sometimes what they’re doing is mind-boggling for me. The last time I was in Chunk, it was just me and Donnie chipping away at the websites. Now there’s 15 of them in there, creating interactive crowd-controlled games that get into the Guinness Book of Records. I was obviously holding the place back!
Does that era of your life have any influence on the material you write now? Are your characters inspired by any from the marketing profession?
In my podcast, Benjamin Hart and his marketing company BAMN concepts are inspired from my old marketing and web developer days. He comes from four or five people I’ve encountered in that line of work, four or five wanks.
All the while you were working in web development you were running the Limmy website too. At what point did you decide to knock the agency stuff on the head and concentrate full time on comedy?
I decided to concentrate full time on comedy when I left Chunk to go travelling. I used it as opportunity to give myself a fresh start, and started thinking about what I wanted to do when I got back home. When I eventually did get back home, I started making the podcast to get some attention and see what came of it.
We all know of plenty musicians who’ve made the leap from internet to major record label, and even of film producers being offered contract after being discovered on YouTube, but we struggle to think of any comedians to have made the same type of transition. What was that journey like? How long did it take? What tools did you utilise? And did you have some sort of master plan in place, or was it more a lucky coincidence?
The journey from me going from the internet to the telly has in effect taken since 1999, when I created Limmy.com. I never planned on getting on the telly back then, though, it was just a hobby. But by 2005, I had made enough videos to make some DVDs and sell them from my site before I went travelling. While I was away, the Comedy Unit got a hold of one and got in touch with me to ask me what I was all about and what I was wanting to do comedy wise. When I got back, we had a meeting, and I told them I was aiming for a sketch show of my own. Fuck it, aim high.
I then made the podcast at the end of 2006, creating a nice wee logo for it to help make it attractive to iTunes scouts. It made it onto the iTunes podcast main page, which helped send it up the UK charts to number 10. That got me lots of attention from the newspapers, and led to me being asked to do a stand-up show, which I did in March 2007 in Glasgow. That gave me enough confidence to put together a show for the Fringe, and I tried to create a show that any possible TV commissioner in the audience could see work at a sketch show. And after doing that for a couple of years, it worked – or at least it helped to make it work.
Can you see this route being a common one in future for budding comedians? To what extent are the various digital/social media channels important to the future of comedy?
I’m sure other people will be able to do what I’ve done, and probably already did do it before I did. Just as a designer has a portfolio of work to show, a writer/actor/director can show off their work through online videos.
And lastly, plans for the future? Is it TV from now on in? Or will you still be giving the stand-up an occasional outing? And will the website always remain a major part of your offering?
It’s TV from now on for me, hopefully. I’ve not got any desire to do the stand-up again. But the web stuff, I’ll always be doing the web stuff. The internet means everything to me.